Faith in diversity
The Economic and Social Research Council study Identities in Transition, which concludes that "the ethnic composition of primary schools has a direct impact on children's attitudes towards those in other ethnic groups and on their ability to get on with their peers", makes negative and erroneous assertions about faith schools, certainly as far as Catholic schools are concerned ("Diversity builds esteem," TES, August 1).
Ofsted inspection data from 2003-2005 covering more than 6,000 maintained schools, of which around 600 were Catholic schools, shows that Catholic schools are in fact more ethnically diverse than other schools. The Ofsted data shows that Catholic secondary schools, for example, have school populations with an average of 20 per cent black and minority ethnic pupils, compared with 15.6 per cent in other maintained schools.
This is unsurprising as Catholicism is a global religion.
In fact, these independent Ofsted statistics also showed that pupils' attitudes, behaviour, relationships and self-confidence are often excellent or very good in Catholic schools, exactly what the ESRC is seeking to promote.
Oona Stannard, Chief executive and director, Catholic Education Service for England and Wales.